By Carlee Frank

Welcome to the seventh week of a healthier you! This week, we’re diving into a sea of crystal blue water, standing under a tropical waterfall and listening to a babbling brook –yes, you guessed it, we’re discussing water. Hydration is the one of the most important functions in the human body. We can survive three weeks of total starvation, but only three to four days without water –and nearly a week in extraordinary situations (Duke University). Due to the fact that our bodies are comprised 60 percent of water, it plays a major role in our daily functions and survival.

According to the Mayo Clinic, water keeps your temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints and protects sensitive tissues. Water also flushes out toxins, regulates sleep and improves concentration (CNN). Dehydration, on the other hand, leaves you exhausted and foggy.

Surprisingly, roughly 20 percent of our daily water intake comes from food, and the other 80 percent must be gained from liquid consumption. Foods abundant in water content also frequently contain high electrolyte counts and fewer calories, so they add to your ounce requirements but not to your waistline. According to Livestrong, foods with a water content of 90 percent or higher include cantaloupe, grapefruit, watermelon and strawberries. Other foods high in water content are raspberries, pineapple, oranges, squash and spinach.

Even more interestingly, multiple studies have cited that people often times confuse thirst with hunger. Yes, it may seem like we would learn this distinction around age two, but the body cues for each discomfort are very similar. Mild dehydration and hunger can both exhibit those familiar empty-stomach growls, fatigue and headache. Due to the fact that our society encourages eating and very seldom discusses hydration, many individuals reach first for food and only later for water. This leads to overeating when we are simply thirsty, which can in turn lead to dehydration and weight. So, next time you hear the tell-tale growls, don’t reach for a ham submarine, but instead reach for a bottle of water.

Now, how much should we drink in order to achieve acceptable hydration? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that men should drink about 15.5 cups of fluids per day and women should drink about 11.5 cups. These numbers may have shocked you, but I have many tips and tricks to help drink it all.

First, invest in a reusable water bottle. Many come inscribed with measurements, progress marks and tally systems to help you track your ounces and remember how many full bottles you’ve consumed. Some of us like the gargantuan 34 ounce bottles that allow us to fill up only three times a day, whereas others like smaller bottles and more fill-ups. Either way, once you’ve purchased your bottle, onto the next step.

Second, make a hydration plan. If your water bottle doesn’t indicate how much you should consume and by when, make those marks yourself. Write in Sharpie the hours in which you should refill your bottle, or mark hourly progress points down the length of the bottle. This will keep you accountable, remind you of your goals and relieve some of the pressure.

Lastly, make it interesting. Add fruit or lemon to your water for taste, or drink tea instead of a morning coffee. You can even set up a treat system. If you drink all of your required ounces this week –which is a full seven days, not a five day work week –then take yourself to the movies or to your favorite restaurant!

I guarantee you will feel a marketable difference. Your skin will be clearer, your sleep deeper and, yes, your bathroom stops more frequent –but your health is worth it!

Next week, we will discuss a reader question. Have you always wanted to master exercise with a bad knee? Or maybe you want to meal prep but aren’t sure where to begin? Whatever the health and fitness dilemma, send it my way and I’ll do my best to solve it! Email me at Good luck and happy hydration!